Hit the Trail with These Top Apps
With warmer months ahead, it's time to get serious about getting out in nature, especially if your idea of a good workout includes a nice, long hike. From trail guides and navigation aids to hike logs and social networks for hikers, check out 15 of the best hiking apps for Android and iOS phones below. (Image Credit: lzf/Shutterstock)
Alltrails (Android, iOS: Free)
The AllTrails app (Android, iOS) has got you covered with more than 50,000 trail guides for hiking, biking and more. Browse through the trail list or search for trails near you, look up trail reviews and write your own. AllTrails allows you to view topographic maps, photos and reviews, and lets you save a trail for offline use so you can take your trail guide to the field. From within the trail, you can upload pictures taken on the trail, and even create and upload your own tracks using your phone's GPS tracker.
MapMyHike (Android, iOS: Free)
MapMyFitness has an app for every outdoor activity under the sun, including hiking. MapMyHike (Android, iOS) uses your phone's sensors to track and log your hiking route, complete with information on pace, distance, calorie counting and route navigation. In addition to logging your own hikes, you can search and download other nearby routes. A premium subscription, starting at $5.99 per month, unlocks other features such as customized audio training cues.
Back Country Navigator (Android: $11.99)
Another excellent resource for offroad back country maps is BackCountry Navigator, an Android app that can take map data from a variety of free and paid sources for offline use. Users can add or import GPS waypoints, record a track, and display a variety of map layers and sources. The app can take maps from a variety of sources, such as from free maps like OpenStreetMap and Open Cycle Map, various official mapping agencies for selected regions worldwide, as well as premium sources.
ViewRanger (Android, iOS: Free)
ViewRanger (Android, iOS) is another versatile GPS trail navigation app that offers both free and premium content. Users can download free maps and trails for offline navigation, while buying premium map data such as USA and USGS Topo maps. There's also a premium "Skyline" augmented reality viewer that flags peaks, hills, and points of interest on your camera view. The app includes more than 180,000 trails, and users can print maps, import GPX files, track routes, plot points of interest, and view other important trip navigation stats.
Spyglass (Android, iOS: Free/$5.99)
Spyglass (Android, iOS) is a multipurpose GPS navigation and augmented reality viewfinding app that serves as a heads-up display with navigation details, a smart compass, and map display all rolled up into one mobile package. Users can download offline maps, navigate toward waypoints, get coordinates and find their way to locations. You can track your GPS location data, with altitude, course, and speed, track the sun and stars, use a rangefinder feature, and take measurements with the sextant, angular calculator and inclinometer tools. The app is premium on iOS, while a free version exists on Android with in-app purchases unlocking app features.
Maps 3D Pro (iOS: $4.99)
Not everyone has the skill or training to properly read a topographic map, so Maps 3D Pro is a helpful navigation tool for those planning an outdoor hike in rugged terrain. As its name suggests, Maps 3D Pro projects maps on a 3D view, allowing users to much more easily interpret terrain features such as hills, ridges, trails, paths, and more. Users can plan, save, and share routes, pre-load maps for offline viewing and navigation, and record their trip complete with coordinates and elevation data. If you are planning to use your iPhone as a navigation tool though, make sure you're well supplied with power (and a battery pack) and/or have a good backup.
Yonder (Android, iOS: Free)
Yonder (Android, iOS) allows users to easily share their experiences hiking, biking and camping with a global network of other lovers of the outdoors. Users can search or browse through a database of more than 200,000 destinations, follow other hikers to view their activity streams, or explore nearby locations through the map. It's great for finding out about nearby trails and routes, as well as an opportunity to network with other lovers of the outdoors.
REI - National Parks (Android, iOS: Free)
Recreational Equipment Inc.'s National Parks app (Android, iOS) is a handy free guide to many of the country's national parks, featuring trail maps and guides, GPS navigation and a list of featured hikes with writeups and difficulty ratings; you'll also find suggestions for family-friendly attractions and the best scenic locations on each trail. Each park entry includes a wealth of information, such as visitor center hours, camping spot details, notes on activities and more.
Ramblr (Android, iOS: Free)
Outdoor types who like to document and journal everything about their trip should check out Ramblr (Android, iOS), a mobile journaling app designed for hikes and mountaineering trips. Ramblr allows users to chronicle everything from their route, statistics such as average speed, distance traveled and highest point. You can also record geotagged audio, video, pictures or text, allowing you to easily create a blow-by-blow account or relive the trip in the future. Additional features include built-in mapping, the ability to upload and share your trips, or check out where other Ramblr users have gone.
Cairn (iOS: Free)
Cairn is a outdoors safety app that does two things. First, it crowdsources information about where you can receive mobile signal on a map (and also logs your location). Second, it allows you to leave a trip plan with your friends. If you are ever overdue, your contacts are alerted and given a map of location data where you were tracked to. Cairn allows you to plan ahead for areas on the trail with mobile coverage.
GPS Essentials (Android: Free)
GPS Essentials is a free Android GPS app that is filled to the brim with options, features and widgets. A ridiculously configurable dashboard can be set to display a wealth of navigational and route data, while route and track functions let you set and manage waypoints on a map and import or export them into a variety of formats. An augmented reality HUD feature is even available, allowing for easier orienteering with the use of your smartphone camera as a viewfinder.
Wild Edibles Forage (Android, iOS: $5.99)
Packing along enough food, snacks, and water for everyone is part of proper planning, but if you're feeling adventurous or really need to look for edible forage, then skip the heavy field guide and grab the Wild Edibles Forage app (Android, iOS). The app serves as a guide to that helps you identify and prepare more than 200 different plants, berries, and other edibles, with detailed illustrations and photographs as well as information on each entry. Just make sure you don't run out of battery power while you're foraging.
Knots 3D (Android, iOS: $1.99)
Knots 3D (Android, iOS) is a handy addition to your mobile hiking apps toolkit, with detailed instructions for how to tie and use more than 125 different knots. Users can search by knot name, synonym, or ABOK#, or search through knots categorized by use. Each knot entry comes with a rotatable 3D animation and description of how a knot is tied, as well as its common uses, other names, and related knot types. The app is ad-free, and all of the animations are downloaded to your device so that you can use the app offline with no problems.
First Aid by American Red Cross (Android, iOS: Free)
The American Red Cross' First Aid app (Android, iOS) is free and ad-free. It provides a wealth of basic first aid information for burns, injuries and other medical emergencies that might arise. A "Learn" mode lets you read up on a type of injury, basic first aid treatment and a Q&A section, while an Emergency mode dispenses with the extra information while providing concise first aid instructions in a single page, sometimes accompanied by videos and diagrams. There's even a one-button shortcut to call 911. Additional links allow you to sign up for first aid courses, buy first aid kits, donate or volunteer for the American Red Cross.
SAS Survival Guide (Android, iOS: $5.99)
Based on the bestselling book by John "Lofty" Wiseman, the paid SAS Suvival Guide app (Android, iOS) contains the full text of the book optimized for mobile formats and covers a host of basic and advanced survival topics. It also includes extensive first aid information, as well as photo galleries of edible, medicinal and poisonous plants. The app allows you to download 16 instructional videos by the author. A survival quiz tests your knowledge, and helpful checklists assist in preparation. The app includes a Morse code signalling function as well.